Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Galactica and Real Life

Interesting article from the Metro News about the Battlestar Galactica DVD set and comparing it to Enterprise:

New Galactica echoes current events
Battlestar Galactica:Season OneUniversal DVD box set***** (out of five)
Star Trek Enterprise:Season ThreeParamount DVD box set***
Just as the latest incarnation of the long-lived Star Trek franchise was limping to an early end on TV — putting the future of Trek in doubt for the first time in 20 years — another sci-fi TV series debuted and showed just where Trek could, and probably should, have gone.
The original Battlestar Galactica ran on TV in the decade between the original Trek series and the debut of The Next Generation.
It wasn't Star Trek but Star Wars that inspired this kitschy space opera, with its vision of a future full of shag haircuts and disco balls, like an endless 1978.
Unbelievably, it has a hard core of fans who noisily objected to former Trek writer Ronald D. Moore's radical re-imagining of the show, especially when you see the result.
The new series cast Edward James Olmos as Adama, the role played by Canadian-born Lorne Greene in the original series. Whereas Greene's Adama had an operetta quality with his booming voice and epaulets, Olmos is craggy-faced and grim, delivering his lines with hoarse exhaustion. His Galactica is recognizably military — an aircraft carrier in space — and the conflict between him and Mary McDonnell as President of the human survivors is utterly recognizable.
Galactica is the most adamantly post-9/11 TV series yet, standing head and shoulders, in its handling of current events and anxieties, above its competition — shows like 24, The Wire, E-Ring, and the third season of the now-cancelled Star Trek Enterprise, just released on disc this week.
The new, and perhaps last, Trek tried manfully to update and renew the franchise, but it never managed to shake loose from the flat-footed humanist dramatics and addiction to novelty that went from virtue to vice in the course of Trek's history.
The third season of Enterprise sent its captain and crew out to avenge an attack on earth by an alien race, and when you put it side by side with Galactica, the greatest Trek flaw is obvious — aliens.
A Trek episode rarely goes by without some colourful new race of alien, kitted out in exotic costumes, face paint and prosthetics.
Technology has improved over the decades, but the humanoid aliens of Trek have never been able to transcend corniness, the spectacle of a guy or girl wearing rubber masks.
Eschewing aliens has been, so far, the new Galactica's smartest decision. The Cylons that pursue the humans into space aren't aliens but robots, and in Moore's re-imagining of the show, they've evolved themselves into human form.
Like any historical epic, sci-fi is really about the present, not the past or future, and this simple move redeems the possibility of sci-fi on TV. Both box sets come with generous bonus features, including commentary tracks and behind-the-scenes featurettes.


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